What is the difference between a physical and an office visit?
We would like to help our patients understand the difference between an office visit and a physical. This is especially important when we submit a bill to your insurance company for that visit. When scheduling an appointment, our office tries to figure out how much time you need with the doctor. Most of the time patients are seen as "office visits". This appointment time is used to discuss new or existing problems. The questions and exam will focus on the problems discussed.
A "physical" or "preventive health exam" is a thorough review of your general wellbeing. The doctor will review your medical history, perform a complete physical exam and make recommendations concerning your health. This may include general recommendations regarding diet and exercise, age appropriate immunizations and cancer screening exams such as a pap test, prostate exam or breast exam and screening lab work.
Ongoing chronic conditions and medication refills can be addressed as long as the condition is stable and does not require a significant change in treatment or additional tests. Should the medical conditions require changes in treatment, your practitioner may choose to have you reschedule your physical and address the current conditions presented. Your provider could choose to address both the problems and the physical at the same session. It is important to know that there would be two separate charges in this instance.
It is important to know your benefit coverage prior to scheduling a physical, well-child visit or other preventive visit. Our office can not code for coverage and will only code according to services provided at the time of service.